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Introduction


a.) The National Reading Panel

A study of American 8th graders by the US Department of Education in 1998 found that 66% of students were unable to summarize what they read. Although they averaged over 21 hours a week watching television, the time spent reading was less than 2 hours a week. In 1991, 40% of all households did not buy a single book. Such trends fuelled the US Congress in 1997 to establish a National Reading Panel to explore recommendations for effective instructional techniques in reading. This panel comprised 14 people, including leading scientists in reading research, educators, teachers, and parents. This panel distilled the results of 100,000 research studies carried out on reading since 1966 into a comprehensive report. The NRP’s report is thought of as the most comprehensive document on reading instruction to date. We refer to these findings as well as the research of other well-established experts in this RocketReader whitepaper.

b.) The Difference Reading Makes

Children who read well are building a bridge to a successful future. Reading well often translates to reading and learning more, and getting better grades in school, college and university. Children who enjoy reading are often more inclined to read after hours and during the weekend. Children who read slowly and with difficulty are trapped in another world; the world of the ‘slow reader’. They find reading a tiring, difficult and laborious task. As a result, they only read what is absolutely necessary at school and are unlikely to read after hours[2]. In addition, they often have low confidence when reading. Children who fall behind in their reading, fall further behind later on in life. A study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found the majority of children who had reading problems in the third grade continued to have problems in the ninth grade. Children with reading problems often grow up to become adults with reading difficulties[13]. Children who read poorly are often assumed to be lazy. As most teachers know, this is often incorrect. A child who reads slowly and with difculty is often expending around four times more visual and mental effort to read the same amount of information as a child who reads well. When you put a lot of work into an activity and derive little, tiredness and frustration sets in. These conditions make it very diffcult to persevere and improve.
Children are under a lot of pressure. By the second and third grade, they are already expected to read storybooks fluently and comprehend what they read. If a child can see they are not as fluent as their peers, they can quickly become demoralized. This compounds the problem and can perpetuate a never ending cycle of low confidence in reading, and in life.
Hence children often become segregated into two different worlds: the world of the slow reader; and the world of the fast, accurate and high stamina reader[29]. How do we help our children develop good reading skills and build reading confidence so they do not become trapped in the world of the slow reader? How do we transform problem readers into fast and accurate readers? How do we increase fluency and comprehension in slow readers? How do we prepare a child for the future challenges of extensive online and electronic reading[10, 17]? This article will show how RocketReader techniques, which are based on a solid and conclusive scientific foundation, can address problem reading habits and help develop high levels of reading fluency and comprehension.


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